The eDerm online curriculum: A randomized study of effective skin cancer teaching to medical students

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With the incidence of skin cancers continuing to increase, traditional clerkships may not be sufficient to teach medical students important detection and management skills.


We performed a randomized study to determine the efficacy of the online curriculum, eDerm.


Students were randomized to complete eDerm before or after clerkship (arm 1 vs 2) and were tested at 3 time points, including at baseline. The crossover design examined eDerm and clerkship, and the sequential effect of both.


In all, 252 participants completed all interventions and testing. Diagnosis and management scores significantly improved in both arms (P < .001; P < .001), reflecting increased scores after taking both eDerm and clerkship. eDerm after clerkship resulted in the highest improvement in diagnosis (P = .005), and eDerm improved the detection of melanoma significantly better than clerkship (malignant, P < .001; pigmented, P < .001).


We did not perform delayed testing of medical students for learning retention.


eDerm significantly improves the diagnosis and management of nonpigmented and pigmented skin lesions by medical students. It can be used as an alternative to a traditional 2-week clerkship if one is not available. Importantly, melanoma detection improved significantly more after eDerm than clerkship. When used as a supplement, eDerm administered after a clerkship will result in the highest level of overall learning.

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